Just imagine, you are in the middle of nowhere in the wilderness, surrounded by the grand Himalayan mountains. The only thing you can see in the distance is a lonely giant tree with its branches stretched out in every direction. You run to the tree for its cool shade to escape from the scorching sun. You sit leaning against this tree with your leg stretch out in the sun; the only sound you hear is the silence. As you look up you see the clear blue sky with not a speck cloud.
Spending time alone in nature is synonymous to meditation. There is some sort of introspection and meditation naturally happening without any effort. No wonder people in the past were much more peaceful and stress-free. Can you recall your last experience where you, having fulfilled your conventional duties, were absolutely one with the nature with no worries of work, family or anything, just sitting silently, living the moment?
This sort of experience in the past was quite obvious after a daylong work in the field. It was so comforting, reassuring, and rewarding. In the past, there was a good balance between work and leisure. People had a lot of time for themselves and their families. As there weren’t much past time, they spent their time, pursuing their hobbies, spending quality time with neighbors, friends, and relatives, grazing the animals, weaving, knitting, relaxing etc. There wasn’t any pressure or deadline. In summer people preferred sleeping on the roof, as it was soothing, looking at the stunning night sky, the natural planetarium, with all the beautiful stars and the galaxies enriched their sleep.
Today our lifestyle has dramatically changed; we are living in extreme conditions. There is no balance between our work and leisure. It’s hard to even imagine slowing down. In the morning as the alarm goes out, there is chaos in the family. Everybody gets into a rushing mood. Children rushing to school, parents running to the office, we barely get time to sit together and enjoy the breakfast. The day starts with a lot of stress. In this fast paced society, everything is calculated with time and target. There is a lot of competition and to live up to the growing expectations we stress ourselves so much both physically and mentally that we often become sick and lethargic. We have lost our patience, endurance and most importantly the meaning and purpose of life.
Many of us experience problems like forgetting things easily, diarrhea, constipation, frequent body aches and pains, headaches, lack of energy or focus, sexual problems, tiredness, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, upset stomach, use of alcohol or drugs to relax, and many of us also suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and menstrual problems etc.
We are moving to the city with the hope of finding a better livelihood only to end up miserably stressed up and engulfed in the intense race that never ends and also get immersed into the system. We blindly keep racing from one work to the other, not even realizing how days pass, and looking back we realize we haven’t achieved except more pressure.
Do we continue living like this or should we do something to change remains for all of us to seriously consider? How many of us critically think about the preciousness of human life and how to make best use of this life to understand the true meaning and purpose of our life? If we are to live a healthy lifestyle the first and foremost thing is to slow down our actions so that we become more focused on what we are thinking, saying and doing.
Whenever there is public gathering there is often discussion about this extreme speed-up lifestyle. People keep complaining of how busy and frustrated they are but why most of us are hesitant or afraid to slow down?
In most developed countries, people are resorting to meditation to slow down and it’s benefiting thousands of people around the world. What about us? We are born in the land of meditation and spirituality, but it seems that we haven’t been able to take full advantage of this precious gift.
If we are serious about life, then instead of rushing and running meaninglessly it’s high time to start meditating. Here are some tips for beginners to start meditation and enjoy its benefits. First thing in the morning, as you wake up, stretch out, look into the mirror give yourself a big smile, take a walk, look up to the sky, the valleys, and the sunrise, acknowledge and appreciate their natural beauty.
Come home, sit down quietly and meditate for a while in the shrine room, start with five to ten minutes each day and slowly try and increase it until you can sit for an hour. It allows you to look into yourself, your ego and understand the complexities of the mind and body and slowly helps to heal many of our physical and psychosomatic diseases and develop positive thinking.
Meditation is very simple; all it takes is commitment to begin and once you start and see the results you can’t do without it. This is how you can begin meditating,
• Sit in a comfortable posture, preferably crossed leg
• Keep your back straight
• Gently close your eyes
• Relax your body muscles from the tip of the head to the toes
• Once relaxed focus your mind on the in breath and out breath, known as Anapanasati, in Pali, the language of the Buddha, meaning breathing in and breathing out
• As you breathe in and breathe out you can feel the soft touch of the air either on the upper lip or the nostrils, keep your mind focused on this small area between the upper lip and the nostrils
• Soon you will discover how restless the mind is, it keeps wondering in past or future; your duty is to gently bring it back to the awareness of the breath flowing in and out.
Ladakh is the most congenial place for meditation; we are blessed to be born in this spiritual land. If we practice regularly, it’s an amazing exercise to calm down our mind and helps develop right understanding in life. This practice is adopted by many institutions, like schools, corporate and psychologist around the world also known as mindfulness meditation and discovered enormous results.
The time has for us to run to the lonely tree, embrace its cool shade, take a deep breath and slow down before stress and tension take an upper hand in our life.